Helping us to see the face of Christ

| Deacon Grant Gerlach | October 25, 2013 | 0 Comments

Praying“The crown of righteousness awaits . . . all who [long] for [God’s] appearance.”

This statement from St. Paul to Timothy (2 Timothy 4:8) reminds us of our ultimate longing and destiny. We all long for right relationships — to live in harmony with others — and we all desire to see the face of God, that face which ultimately radiates from the face of Jesus Christ, through whom we are able to see the Father. It is, in fact, our destiny to behold this face in all its heavenly glory!

But, we don’t behold this face as we should now because the darkness of sin has clouded our vision. That sin which puffs-up our eyes and has us pray as the Pharisee in the Gospel: I thank myself (ultimately) for my righteousness, for “I am not like the rest of humanity . . . I fast . . . I pay tithes.” I’m good, I do, I give — I, I, I. Did I forget anything? Oh, yeah, what about this tax collector? Look at him; he doesn’t deserve the same that I’ve earned.

Yikes! This “exaltedness” has no place in Christian prayer. Our Lord makes this perfectly clear. Instead, it is the tax collector who goes home justified, for “the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

This is how Christian prayer is to begin, especially the prayer of petition: “O God, be merciful to me a sinner.” This is reflected in the pinnacle of Christian prayer, the eucharistic liturgy, which begins (after the initial greeting): “Let us acknowledge our sins . . . Lord, have mercy.”

Cry of the poor

Surely this sincere and contrite “lowly” prayer “pierces the clouds” of sin’s darkness and has our “petition [reach] the heavens.” For “the Lord hears the cry of the poor,” especially those poor in spirit — those who have humbly acknowledged their place before God as dependent creatures — whose kingdom is heaven (cf. Matthew 5:3).

This “lowly and poor” prayer purifies our hearts and helps us to see God (cf. Matthew 5:8). Truly, God our Father comes into focus more and more in the face of Jesus when we ask for forgiveness: “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

Instead of placing our eyes on our “I” — our ego — (like the Pharisee), when in prayer, we are to place them on our Lord (like the tax collector) and ask for his merciful forgiveness so that, in the end, he would “[lift] up the lowly,” as Our Lady so beautifully proclaims and rejoices in her Magnificat (see Luke 1:46-55), and bring us out of our darkness and into our heavenly home justified to behold his luminous face.

May Our Lady help us see this face! It is Mary, after all, who first beheld this face in a manger. She, who forevermore beholds his face in all its heavenly glory, also longs for us to see her son’s face and sing with the heavenly creatures, “Glory to God in the highest!”

Who knew all this was going on at the beginning of the Eucharist?!

Deacon Gerlach is in formation for the priesthood at St. Paul Seminary for the Diocese of Rapid City, S.D. His home parish is the Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Rapid City, and his teaching parish is St. Ambrose of Woodbury in Woodbury.


Readings

Sunday, Oct. 27
30th Sunday in Ordinary Time

  • Sirach 35:12-14, 16-18
  • 2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18
  • Luke 18: 9-14

Reflection

During your prayer time this week, what one thing can you do to focus less on yourself and more keenly on the face of Christ and his will for you?

 

 

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Category: Sunday Scriptures